Push vs pull – which CDN is best? Why can’t have it both?


Often you see posts describing the difference between push and pull CDN but which is best for you? And why can’t you have it both ways? CDN stands for Content Delivery Network, a network of multiple locations that deliver your content to the nearest user, as opposed to one server location, which can take time to deliver the content.

CDN allows users speedy access to your web content, less time loading and buffering, but there are difference types of CDN. So which one is best if they both do the same thing in the end? I’m going to try and show you the difference between push and pull CDN and convince you that sometimes the simplest way is the best way when it comes to content delivery.

What are Push and Pull CDNs? – Well it’s all in the name

Push CDN

Content is distributed proactively to edge servers in your chosen CDN locations and the web content is automatically populated in the CDN PoP closest to your end-user’s location. So when the end-user sends a request for a file (html, video, css etc) the CDN has it all ready it a neat package and it’s delivered seamlessly into their browser

Push CDN means the user (that’s YOU) has to form these links to files, and format it all to “push” it out to the CDN, and this will need to be maintained. So whenever there’s an update or change in the content you need to PUSH it back out to the CDN.

Pull CDN

When the end-user sends the request for the web content it “pulls” it down from the nearest edge server (cdn location). All the content is cached in one place and the CDN does the work to pull it down into the end-users browser.

It needs to be said, that the first person to send a request to a new CDN location will find it hasn’t yet pulled that information and cached it ready for viewing. Making their experience seem no different to a site without CDN enabled. But once that first request has been made, the content is cached, and there it will stay until you tell it otherwise.

But which CDN is best? Push vs Pull

Pull CDN is often used for smaller files, such as website images, javascript, css and html files. Making it the ideal CDN for web designers, especially for those working on website template platforms such as WordPress, Joomla, Drupal or Magento. You can use lots of free ping checkers online to prove that. When all you need to get started is your CNAME record and an out-of-the-box CDN plugin.

If you’re a web designer and use a web platform such as WordPress it can all be done with a CDN plugin such as W3 Total Cache. You tell the CDN plugin your CNAME record

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